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“We need the private sector to get involved” in the ecological effort, insists the president of the World Bank

After Emmanuel Macron last week, it is the turn of the President of the World Bank Ajay Banga to call on the private and public sectors to stand together in the ecological effort.

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“We need the private sector to get involved” in the ecological effort, insists the president of the World Bank

After Emmanuel Macron last week, it is the turn of the President of the World Bank Ajay Banga to call on the private and public sectors to stand together in the ecological effort. The energy transition and the fight against global warming, which require trillions of dollars, will only be possible with the financial support of the private sector, insists the President of the World Bank (WB), Ajay Banga, in an interview granted Wednesday to AFP. But to convince businesses to support it in this area, the Washington-based institution must continue its reforms and move faster in carrying out its projects, he continues, recognizing the need for the Bank to be “faster and focused on the result. “Governments and multilateral banks do not have enough money” to finance the fight against global warming alone, recalls the former American-Indian business leader. “we need the private sector to get involved.”

A G20 report published last June underlines the need to triple the capital of the World Bank, “an excellent idea” judges its president but “which will not be enough to bring us to the trillions” necessary “simply for the transition energy”. Arriving last June at the head of the WB, Ajay Banga, has been pushing since taking office for a “more efficient and better financed” bank that would be able to respond to its updated mission: “eliminating poverty on a livable planet”. In order to achieve this, the “Bank must change and evolve, this is a point clearly underlined even before my arrival” he recalls, an essential development to “create the necessary credibility and make financiers want to come and provide money” to projects carried out by the WB.

Also read: The other ecological challenge of the century: Jane Goodall's call to preserve the wild world

The institution must in particular shorten the time necessary to carry out its projects, one of the main objectives put forward by Ajay Banga, who hopes to reduce by 30% the 27 months currently necessary between preliminary discussions and the first expenses. More broadly, the ongoing reforms should make the entire daily functioning of the institution more efficient, while allowing it to continue to “do its good work: remember that we provided $120 billion in funding last year, we can’t cut that.” Ajay Banga therefore describes himself as "a plumber", who wants to ensure that the Bank "runs like a well-oiled machine" so that "my successor, who will face other problems, can concentrate on them, not on plumbing.

But it is also necessary to show the poorest countries that the fight against global warming does not take precedence over reducing poverty, the Bank's primary mission, admits Ajay Banga. “The countries of the South recognize that we cannot fight against poverty without fighting against climate change, but the difference is what we mean by “climate change”,” he underlines. “For developed countries, this means limiting climate change, and that involves greenhouse gas emissions, while the developing world thinks about adaptation, because they see the impact of warming in terms of irrigation, precipitation , land degradation, loss of biodiversity,” explains Ajay Banga.

In order to respond to this, the Bank therefore announced that 45% of its financing will go to projects “limitation or adaptation” to climate change, “half to limitation, the other half to adaptation”. “This is important for the beneficiary states because they see that half of the 45% goes towards subjects that concern them and that the remaining 55% is still available. For donor countries, knowing that half of the 45% goes to limitation projects is something that is important,” he argues. “We need to reach these compromises, to show donors and beneficiaries that the Bank is trying to move in the right direction.”

However, we must also reassure “the countries of the South, who are still waiting for the money promised at the Paris COP”, i.e. $100 billion, to finance their climate transition but which never arrived. More recently, the massive aid to Ukraine sparked criticism in Africa, seeing it as a sign that the institution was prioritizing issues deemed important by Western countries.

A “misunderstanding”, assures Ajay Banga, who recalls that “the World Bank puts significantly more money in sub-Saharan Africa than in Ukraine”, the vast majority of the funds concerned coming directly from donor countries, via the WB. But there is now “a desire” from the countries of the North to “make the necessary financing available for the poorest countries, the message has reached the developed countries”, assures Ajay Banga.

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